Bellamy likes the Broncos
MELBOURNE Storm coach Craig Bellamy thinks the NRL grand final on the first weekend in October may well be a rematch of the 2006 decider, one of the three his team has lost with him as coach.
That grand final was between the Storm and Broncos, and the Broncos won 15-8.
Now, before readers start accusing Bellamy of getting ahead of himself with 10 rounds of the premiership still to be played, let me explain the circumstances under which he made the prediction, and the pressure exerted on him to expound on a question he did not want to answer.
I interviewed the Storm coach at a Sunshine Coast Falcons luncheon on Wednesday and in a 45-minute Q&A segment he answered a myriad of questions honestly, mostly without hesitation. But when I asked him who he thought the Storm might play if they made their eighth grand final during his 15-year tenure as coach, he was reluctant to answer.
When pushed, and asked which teams this season had impressed him most, Bellamy named the Sharks, Roosters and Broncos. And, on the eve of their big clash at Suncorp Stadium tonight, he singled out the Broncos for particular mention.
He says they have changed the way they attack, use more of the field than they had in previous seasons and had made more ground in attack than any other NRL team to date in 2017. And, even without attacking spearheads Darius Boyd and Anthony Milford, he still fears their offence in tonight’s game.
Bellamy, however, was less forthcoming when asked if Storm skipper Cameron Smith would line up against the Broncos tonight. Wearing a grin as wide as Melbourne’s trophy cabinet, he merely said Smith was well rested following a week’s spell after Origin Two.
But he was more giving when quizzed for his thoughts on whether his fullback-cum-five-eighth, Cameron Munster, would slot into the Queensland centre spot vacated by the injured Darius Boyd.
While saying the 22-year-old Rockhampton native was made for Origin, his coach was reticent to recommend him as a centre, where he said he revealed Munster played just once for the Storm in 56 NRL games. Joining his teammates Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater in the Maroons spine at five-eighth would give Queensland a more formidable combination according to Bellamy.
He may have the most successful winning record of any modern-day long-term coach in the game, but the Storm mentor conceded he had under-estimated the role of Origin coach when he took charge of the Blues in 2008. In three series he won just two of nine games.
Having never played Origin football or being previously involved in the series as an assistant coach, he feels he erred by preparing his team similarly to an NRL game. By the time he realised he was on the wrong track, it was too late to change.
But another major stumbling block existed – biting the hand that fed them were his own players. Running rampant for Queensland were Smith, Slater, Cronk, Greg Inglis, Israel Folau, Dallas Johnson and Mick Crocker.
And with an emphatic no, Bellamy said he would never coach at Origin level again.